Edited July 8, 2022

“Build on Land You Own”

A few years ago the major social media platforms were under scrutiny for censoring and/or removing content. Regardless of how you feel about Facebook, Twitter and others’ actions, let’s focus on what this means for businesses relying on social media to communicate with their audience.

My friend told me a story about her aunt who built a summer cottage on land she rents. She has fond memories vacationing in the cute little cottage by the lake, but it had one big drawback – it had no running water. Her aunt wasn’t trying to “rough it”… she’s a big fan of flush toilets and hot showers, but because the landowner didn’t allow water access to be brought onto the property, an outhouse had to do.

What does this have to do with social media?  

Joe Pulizzi, Author, Speaker and Founder of Content Marketing Institute, has been teaching marketers to recognize the risks of building on social sites for years. He refers to them as rented digital land. Pulizzi doesn’t discourage businesses from using social media, but he does strongly advise having a strategy to move fans and followers to assets your organization owns due to the risks of having no control over changing algorithms or policies.

Why would anyone build a cottage on rented land?

I’m not sure why my friend’s aunt built a cottage on land she didn’t own, but I’m sure she had plenty of good reasons!

We dedicate time and resources to building and maintaining communities on social sites because when it works, it works really well. But if 2020 taught us anything, we have no idea what tomorrow will bring. 2021 has already shown us that we can’t rely on social as we have in the past.

The best we can do is focus on controlling what we have control of, and prepare for un-anticipated disruptions regarding our organization’s social sites.

What to do?

  1. Take a step back, and look at your organization’s marketing assets – owned and rented. Rank them in terms of risk. Facebook is at the bottom (High risk rental space); LinkedIn is in the middle; your email list, podcast subscribers, website and url are at the top (Low risk – owned).
  2. Create strategies and execute your plan to move friends, fans and followers up the ownership chain onto owned assets  – such as visiting your website and subscribing to an email list, podcast or blog.
  3. Give it time, and keep working & tweaking the plan

Reach out to us if you’d like to talk about developing more effective websites and email campaigns.

P.S. If you’re wondering about the fate of the cute lake cottage with no running water, ten years ago, the land owner agreed to bring fresh water access onto the property. I bet that hot shower feels really good!